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McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

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1 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

2 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. 7 THE MASS MEDIA

3 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Chapter Outline Sociological Perspectives of the Media The Audience The Media Industry Social Policy and Mass Media: Media ViolenceSocial Policy and Mass Media: Media Violence

4 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Sociological Perspective of the Media Figure 7.1: Rise of the Mass Media Source: Authors calculations based on Bureau of Census, 1975: 43, 783, 796; 2000a: 567: Newburger 2001; Television Bureau of Advertisers 2001

5 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Sociological Perspective of the Media Agent of Socialization –--The media increases social cohesion by presenting a more or less standardized common view of culture through mass communication. –--Mass media provides a collective experience for members of a society. –-- The Internet has become for many the public commons, a place where they can come together and talk. (Miller and Darlington 2002) Functionalist View

6 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Sociological Perspective of the Media The most obvious function of mass media is to entertain. While this is true, we may be overlooking other important functions of mass media. Functionalist View

7 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Sociological Perspective of the Media Enforcer of Social Norms --The media often reaffirms proper behavior by showing what happens to people who act in a way that violates societal expectations. --The media plays a critical role in shaping perceptions about the risks of substance use, although not necessarily in a positive fashion. Functionalist View

8 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Sociological Perspective of the Media Conferral of Status --The mass media confers status on people, organizations, and public issues. --The media singles out one from thousands of other similarly placed issues or people to become significant. Functionalist View

9 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Sociological Perspective of the Media Table 7.1: Status Conferred by Magazines

10 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Sociological Perspective of the Media Surveillance of the Social Environment --The surveillance function refers to the collection and distribution of information concerning events in the social environment. --The media collect and distribute facts about a variety of events and generally define what constitutes a fact to be reported. --In defining events to be reported, the media reflects the values and orientation of the decision makers within media organizations. Functionalist View

11 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Sociological Perspective of the Media Dysfunctional Media: The Narcotizing Effect –--Narcotizing dysfunction: the phenomenon whereby the media provide such massive amounts of information that the audience becomes numb and generally fails to act on the information. –--Interested citizens may take in the information, but they may make no decision or take no action. Functionalist View

12 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Sociological Perspective of the Media Conflict theorists emphasize that the media reflect and even exacerbate many of the divisions of our society and world, including those based on gender, race, ethnicity, and social class. They point in particular to the medias ability to decide what gets transmitted through gatekeeping. Conflict View

13 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Sociological Perspective of the Media Gatekeeping --The mass media constitute a form of big business in which profits are generally more important than the quality of the product. --Within the mass media, a relatively small number of people control what material eventually reaches the audience, a process known as gatekeeping. --Gatekeeping is not as dominant in the Internet. Conflict View

14 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Sociological Perspective of the Media Dominant Ideology: Constructing Reality –--Conflict theorists argue that the mass media serve to maintain the privileges of certain groups. –--While protecting their own interests, powerful groups may limit the representation of others in the media. Continued... Conflict View

15 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Sociological Perspective of the Media Dominant Ideology: Constructing Reality --Dominant ideology: the set of cultural beliefs and practices that help to maintain powerful social, economic, and political interests. --The media transmit messages that virtually define what we regard as the real world, even though these images are frequently at wide variance from the larger society. --Stereotypes: False images of a particular group that become accepted as accurate portrayals of reality. Conflict View

16 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Sociological Perspective of the Media Dominant Ideology: Whose Culture? --Globalization projects the dominating reach of the U.S. media into the rest of the world. --These media-cultural exports undermine the distinctive traditions and art forms of other societies and encourage their cultural and economic dependence on the United States. Conflict View

17 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Sociological Perspective of the Media Feminists continue the argument advanced by conflict theorists that the mass media stereotype and misrepresent social reality. The media are a powerful influence on how we look at men and women, and, according to this view, their images of the sexes communicate unrealistic, stereotypical, and limiting perceptions. Feminist View

18 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Sociological Perspective of the Media Three Problems Arising From Media Coverage: –Women are underrepresented –Men and women are portrayed in ways that reflect and perpetuate stereotypical views of gender –Depictions of male-female relationships emphasize traditional sex roles and normalize violence against women Feminist View

19 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Sociological Perspective of the Media Interactionists are especially interested in shared understandings of everyday behavior. They examine the media on the microlevel to see how they shape day-to-day social behavior. Scholars increasingly point to the mass media as the source of major daily activity. The interactionist perspective also helps us to understand more about one important aspect of the entire mass media systemthe audience. Interactionist View

20 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. The Audience Mass media distinguished from other social institutions by the necessary presence of an audience. It can be an identifiable, finite group or a much larger, undefined group. Who is the Audience?

21 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. The Audience Microsociological view of audience: Considers how audience members interacting among themselves would respond to the media. Macrosociological view of audience: Considers the broader societal consequences of the media. Audiences vary in their composition. Who is the Audience?

22 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. The Audience The media is increasingly marketing themselves to a particular audience. This specialization is driven by advertising. Members of these audiences are more likely to expect content geared to their own interests. This specialized targeting of audiences has led some scholars to ponder whether there is still a mass in mass media. The Segmented Audience

23 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. The Audience The role of audience members as opinion leaders intrigues social researchers. Opinion leader: someone who, through day-to-day personal contacts and communication, influences the opinions and decisions of others. Audience Behavior

24 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. The Audience Audience members do not all interpret media in the same way. Their response is often influenced by social characteristics such as occupation, race, education, and income. Audience Behavior

25 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. The Media Industry A handful of multi-national corporations dominate the publishing, broadcasting, and film industries. Without government intervention, media giants will continue to grow as long as there are benefits to being large. Media Concentration

26 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. The Media Industry Figure 7.2: Media in Selected Countries

27 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. The Media Industry Concerns Over Media Concentration: –--Is the public interest being best served by the growing concentration of media? –--Will innovation and independence decline as media empires grow? –--In some countries, gatekeeping is controlled by political leaders who desire to maintain control of the government. –--The Internet is a significant exception to the centralization and concentration of media. Media Concentration

28 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. The Media Industry Mass media has begun to create a global village in terms of communication. Not all countries are equally connected. The media permeate all aspects of everyday life. The Internet is the key to creating a truly global network that reaches into workplaces, schools, and homes. People are concerned that unhealthy influences and even crime are taking place in todays electronic global village. The Medias Global Reach

29 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. The Media Industry Percent of households with a computer Percent of households with Internet access Computers and Internet Access in the Home: 1984 to 2000 Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census The Population Profile of the United States: Figure (Internet Release) accessed at

30 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. The Media Industry Home computer access School computer use Total access $75,000 or more $50,000 to $74,999 $25,000 to $49,999 Less than $25,000 * Among children in families. Percent of Children Age 6 to 17 Who Have Computer Access at Home and School by Annual Family Income: August 2000 Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census The Population Profile of the United States: Figure (Internet Release) accessed at

31 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. The Media Industry Information searches News, weather, sports School research or courses Job-related tasks Percent of children 3 to 17 years Percent of adults 18 years and over Adults and Children Using the Internet for a Specific Task: August 2000 Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census The Population Profile of the United States: Figure (Internet Release) accessed at

32 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Social Policy and Mass media The Issue --What effect does movie and TV violence have on audiences? --Does violence in the media lead people, especially youth, to become more violent? Media Violence

33 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Social Policy and Mass media The Setting --We spend a great deal of time with the media. --Does watching hours of mass media with violent images cause one to behave differently? --Some studies have linked exposure to media violence to subsequent aggressive behavior. --It is important to recognize that other factors besides the media are also related to aggressive behavior. Media Violence

34 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Social Policy and Mass media Sociological Insights --If the function of media is to entertain, socialize, and enforce social norms, how can violence be a part of that message? --Even if the viewer does not necessarily become more violent from watching violent images, there could be a desensitization taking place. Continued... Media Violence

35 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Social Policy and Mass media Sociological Insights --Both conflict and feminist theorists are troubled that the victims depicted in violent imagery are often those who are given less respect in real life: women, children, the poor, racial minorities, citizens of foreign countries, and even the physically disabled. --Interactionists are especially interested in finding out if violence in media may then become a script for real-life behavior. Media Violence

36 McGraw-Hill © 2004 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. Social Policy and Mass media Policy Initiatives --Policymakers have responded to links between violence depicted in the media and real life aggression in two ways: Public statements of support for family-oriented, less violent media content Reluctance to pass laws that could be regarded as censorship. Media Violence


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